Phyllis J. Walsh: An Oral History

Phyllis J. Walsh: From Lorgnettes to Lariats – In Loving Recollection of the S Bar S Ranch, Where Work Hardened Our Hands, While Visitors Lightened Our Hearts

Interviewee: Phyllis J. Walsh
Interviewed: 1971
Published: 1973
Interviewer: Mary Ellen Glass
UNOHP Catalog #061

Phyllis J. Walsh, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born in 1897. She received her education in private schools of the New England area, and began an exciting and varied career that took her over several continents. While still in her teens, Miss Walsh enlisted in World War I as a member of the French Army, an action that exemplified her later individualistic pursuits. She played tennis with champions, wrote a sports column for a New York newspaper, worked as a stockbroker, and briefly engaged in typical Prohibition-era activities. In the 1930s she arrived in Nevada to assist in managing a ranch. In Nevada, Phyllis Walsh became a civic leader, with responsible positions in numerous patriotic organizations.

Phyllis Walsh’s years in Nevada form the major part of her memoir. With Helen Marye Thomas, member of a pioneer Comstock era family, Miss Walsh managed and worked the S Bar S ranch on the Truckee River within the boundaries of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. There, she and Mrs. Thomas entertained local and national leaders in the arts and society, raised hay and livestock, tried to keep the river from tearing away their land, and participated fully in the life of western Nevada. With the advent of World War II, their activities, especially Miss Walsh’s, expanded further to include numerous service organizations: the American Women’s Voluntary Services (AWVS), the USO, the Red Cross, and others. As a member of an early eastern pioneer family, Miss Walsh also participated actively in the local and state units of the Daughters of American Colonists.

This introduction and oral history is reprinted with permission from the University of Nevada Oral History Archive, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Nevada, Reno.

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